In October 2019, the People’s Republic of Mozambique is to hold general elections. The People’s Republic of Mozambique is a country located in Southeast Africa. The head of state is a president elected for a five-year term. The country’s parliament is made up of 250 deputies. The Mozambican political regime can be defined as a transition to democracy. The country’s ruling party is FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Fund), which had led the struggle for independence from Portugal. It occupies 144 seats in the Assembly of the Republic. Other parties represented in it are the opposition RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance) – 89 seats – and MDM (Democratic Movement of Mozambique) – 17 seats.
The ruling FRELIMO party is one of the core elements of the Mozambican political system. Thus, according to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Mozambique, FRELIMO determines the political orientation of the state, guides and controls the activity of state bodies.
In Mozambique, the democratic transition started at the end of the 20th century, when President Joaquim Chissano proclaimed FRELIMO’s shift from all Marxism-Leninism references and Mozambique’s transition to democracy with a multi-party system. Like other countries that embarked on the path of democratic transition in the 1990s, Mozambique is a state with unconsolidated democracy. This means that democratic institutions formally exist, but de facto they either do not function or are defective. However, the Constitution of the Republic states that its main task is to expand and strengthen the popular democratic rule.
It is noteworthy that the country has not fully transitioned into a market-based economy. According to the Constitution of Mozambique, the state conducts economic planning to guarantee the proper exploitation of the country’s wealth for the benefit of the Mozambican people.
On October 15, 2019, the country is to elect President, members of the national parliament and 11 provincial assemblies for the sixth time. Provincial assemblies will now have the right to elect provincial governors based on the constitutional amendment of August 2018. The leader of the opposition RENAMO, a former rebel movement, resigned in 2012 and made the news by organized armed strikes. In the subsequent clashes with security forces, hundreds of people were killed. Regular negotiations between the government and RENAMO that involved national mediators led to the signing of a peace agreement in September 2014, which provided for amnesty and disarmament of the RENAMO fighters. This allowed the RENAMO to run in the elections scheduled for October 2015. As a result, the party performed better than in 2009, and FRELIMO lost a two-thirds majority in parliament, while retaining more than half of the seats.
In March 2015, the incumbent president Filipe Nyusi also assumed the chairmanship of the ruling party from his predecessor Armando Guebuza.
In spring 2015, armed clashes between RENAMO fighters and security forces erupted in Mozambique again. The underlying cause of domestic political disputes and conflicts is the issue of future inclusion of the entire population in the political process and in the medium term – the distribution of the expected fruits of the country’s economic development (primarily, export earnings).
In 2018, the FRELIMO party congress consolidated the further progression of President Filipe Nyusi towards the final resolution of the conflict between the FRELIMO government and RENAMO’s military wing. The ceasefire agreement signed at the end of 2016 is generally respected. In August 2018, the country’s Constitution was amended to accommodate the opposition’s call for political decentralization, which would introduce a system of elections for provincial governors. Earlier this year, 14 senior RENAMO officers were incorporated into the armed forces. In exchange, RENAMO agreed in principle to the demobilization and disarmament of the remaining insurgent groups. The conflict resolution process (the so-called DD&R process), backed by international sponsors, including Germany, shall be completed before the October elections. President Nyusi’s rating has grown due to the ceasefire and his unexpected political step – a decision to visit the RENAMO leader at his headquarters with nationwide support to achieve a lasting peace in the country. As a result, he was re-elected at the FRELIMO party congress held every five years as leader, which made him FRELIMO’s 2019 presidential nominee.
One of the authoritarian aspects of present Mozambique is the presidential decree, which imposes large taxes on media and journalism. Foreign journalists will pay $2,500 for a trip to the country, while the annual accreditation fee will be $8,300. National media will pay $ 3,500 for their reporting. Experts believe that this decree has to do with the reduction of coverage of the 2019 Mozambican general elections. This measure invites reflecting on the doubtful democratic nature of elections in the republic.
Of course, the basic political rights are enshrined in the Constitution of Mozambique. Mozambique has also ratified the main international conventions on the protection of human rights. According to international organizations and research centers, there is no systematic, planned violation of human rights by state actors in the country. However, in many cases, the excessive force by the police and security forces leads to human rights violations. That said, they tend to have no disciplinary or legal consequences.
In April, IAC experts took an extensive opinion poll to identify socio-political sentiments in the Republic of Mozambique. The poll results make it possible to determine the social sentiment of the country’s citizens. A rather critical assessment of the situation in the country is noteworthy.
It was also established that Daviz Simango, the leader of the pro-Western opposition MDM party and Mayor of Beira, is given a positive assessment by the respondents.
However, approval Simango has is not converted into votes for the MDM. According to the poll, the Democratic Movement of Mozambique is significantly inferior not only to the ruling party, but also to RENAMO in terms of those decided on their choice.
The survey also showed that even though a part of society is discontent with the incumbent president, he is a clear frontrunner in the upcoming race.
Currently, the Government of the Republic of Mozambique is working on a strategy for implementing recommendations to improve the protection and realization of human rights. However, since Mozambique is still one of the poorest countries in the world, the implementation of international agreements often fails due to the lack of financial and human resources.
In March 2019, a meeting was held between the First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council, Nikolay Fyodorov, and the parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Mozambique. In addition to the prospects for economic partnership between the countries discussed at the meeting, Fyodorov expressed hope that “general elections will contribute to further domestic political stabilization of Mozambique”.
We shall remind that in January 2017, the agreement on military and technical cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Mozambique came into effect. In March 2018, following a meeting of Sergey Lavrov with Filipe Nyusi, Russia voiced its willingness to assist in resolving the internal political conflict in Mozambique. There is no doubt the actions of the two countries are aimed at further strengthening of the traditionally friendly Russian-Mozambican relations: the intensification of political dialogue and the mutually beneficial partnership in exploration and production of hydrocarbons, energy, telecommunications, agriculture and personnel training.
Mozambique’s President is to make an official visit to Moscow in the second half of 2019, which confirms the interest of the country’s leadership in forging a strategic partnership with Russia.
Meanwhile, Western countries have an interest in the strengthening of the opposition, primarily, the MDM made up of former RENAMO members. The country has discovered several major offshore oil and gas fields. Companies from the United States, Italy, China and India are responsible for the development. The construction of a 2,600 km-long gas pipeline with a capacity of about 10 billion cubic meters per annum is planned, which is to connect the northern part of Mozambique and South Africa. This goal may even require destabilization of the political situation in the country. The opposition is likely to resume the armed confrontation if it suspects that the authorities are rigging the elections.